Before the FPS ran rampant over the industry, the platformer was at the top of the video game food chain. Everybody and their mother were trying their hand at next big platformer to rival the likes of Mario and Sonic. During the PS2's life cycle, Sony had not one, not two, but three mascot platformers competing for dominance. Those three franchises were <em>Jak and Daxter</em>, <em>Sly Cooper</em>, and <em>Ratchet & Clank</em>.</p>
While I had passing interests in Jak and Sly, Ratchet & Clank never caught my eye. Although I may have dabbled in a few of the games here and there, it was my younger brothers that played them religiously. When Sony looked to bring the series to PS4, I finally took the dive to see why this fictional rodent and robot tandem has such a huge following.
Ratchet & Clank is a re-imagining of the first title in this long-running series. While it follows the same plot, Insomniac Games has taken a few liberties in updating it for a modern audience. Considering that the game along with its tie-in movie are meant to attract newcomers as well as returning fans, these liberties add plot elements and characters from future games in a way that feels natural to the story. In all honesty, I didn't notice any of the changes until I asked my younger brother.
In the gameplay department, Ratchet & Clank adds mechanics like grinding, and weapons such as the Groovitron from future titles and seamlessly blends it with the original gameplay. Ratchet & Clank's core mechanics have aged wonderfully in the 15 years since the PS2 original. The mix of precise 3D platforming traversal with the frantic third-person shooting is a unique hook that few games have replicated to the same success as Insomniac's series. The added mechanics and weapons give the game a greater amount of variety. Be it fighting off spaceships or competing in hoverboard races, there is always something new to do outside of Ratchet & Clank's core mechanics.
I would be remiss to discuss Ratchet & Clank without addressing Insomniac's signature sense of humour. You can find it in every facet of the game from the writing to the weapons to the enemy designs. There are many points throughout this 10-hour adventure that will leave you laughing uncontrollably. My personal highlight is Mr. Zurkon, a robot companion killing machine, with his endless spew of entertaining one-liners and insults.
As fun as Ratchet & Clank is, it is too attached to its movie tie-in. So much so that all of the cutscenes are pulled right from the movie, which breaks your immersion as the aspect ratio switches between full 1080p and widescreen on a regular basis. In all honesty, the in-game engine could have easily handled the degree of animation found in the cutscenes and it would have made for a more cohesive package. It also has the feeling of big studio executive meddling as evidenced by an endgame bait and switch. The twist feels forced as the game shoehorns a key character from later Ratchet & Clanks in to the last mission for no reason other than that he's more recognizable.
As my first real taste of Ratchet & Clank, I am impressed. The gameplay was loads of fun, the writing was hilarious, and the interesting collectibles had me searching every nook and cranny. Despite all the games battling for my attention this past April, I always kept coming back to Ratchet. Although it may not be as high-profile as Uncharted 4, Ratchet & Clank is a must buy for all PS4 owners.